As we all know, it is hard to convict a white police officer for killing an unarmed person — even when it is on camera. But now a Black police officer is finally heading to trial after murdering a white woman nearly two years ago.
On the evening of July 15, 2017, Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor shot and killed an unarmed Australian woman named Justine Damond. Jury selection began today. Minneapolis Public Radio reports, “Seventy-five people, known only by numbers on cards hung around their necks, began filling out juror questionnaires Monday.” The site also reports, “Hennepin County Judge Kathryn Quaintance told the jury pool that they’re not investigators and should avoid all media reports on the trial. She also told them that they’d be known only by their numbers until a verdict.”
Noor is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
Reportedly, the incident began around 11:30 p.m. when Damond, 40, called 911 to report a possible assault near her house. According to a news release from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, two Minneapolis Police Department officers responded to the call and went to an alley near her home.
Allegedly, Noor’s partner, Matthew Harrity, “heard a voice, a thump somewhere behind him on the squad car, ‘and caught a glimpse of a person’s head and shoulders outside his window.’ Reportedly, he was not able to articulate what the noise was, how loud it was, what the person’s voice sounded like, or what the person said. He characterized it as ‘a muffled voice or a whisper.’ He estimated the person was 2 feet away and he couldn’t see their hands, or weapons.” The news release continues, saying Officer Harrity “perceived that his life was in danger, reached for his gun, unholstered it, and held it to his rib cage while pointing it downward. He said from the driver’s seat he had a better vantage point to determine a threat than Officer Noor would have had from the passenger seat.” Damond was shot and killed.
The officer’s body cameras weren’t on and there isn’t a video of the shooting. In a statement released by the lawyer for the family of Ms. Damond, they said, “We remain hopeful that a strong case will be presented by the prosecutor, backed by verified and detailed forensic evidence, and that this will lead to a conviction. No charges can bring our Justine back. However, justice demands accountability for those responsible for recklessly killing the fellow citizens they are sworn to protect, and today’s actions reflect that.”
Noor, who is Somalian, was fired from department. The Star Tribune reported that Noor has plead not guilty, “arguing that he acted in self-defense when he fired the fatal shot from inside his police SUV” and intends to claim “he used ‘reasonable force’ when he shot Damond should the case goes to trial.”
The “self-defense” argument is used by many white cops. We’ll see if we will have the same result for a Black officer shooting an unarmed white woman in “self-defense.”